The hunt for Susitna reds

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The F/V Americanus follows the F/V Three Sons out of the Kasilof River’s channel in Cook Inlet to start a two-day test fishery. Working from the east to the west side of Cook Inlet, the test boat fished seven sites one day, anchored overnight, and then fished the same seven sites back to Kasilof on the second day. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Adrian Zimmer, Wade Greenlee, Travis Mercier and Roland Maw work last month to pull salmon aboard the F/V Americanus during a test fishery for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The crew worked seven different sites every day in July to sample salmon swimming through a cross section of Cook Inlet. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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A salmon caught near the top of the net waits to be pulled free. The test boat uses the same type of driftnet other commercial driftnet fishermen use. With a “cork line” at the top to keep it afloat, and a “lead line” at the bottom to keep it hanging in the water, the net stretches about 1,200 feet and hangs about 18 feet deep. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Travis Mercier, Adrian Zimmer and Wade Greenlee pull fish from the gillnet following one of the test sets. The crew pulls the net 30 minutes after its end reaches the water, regardless of how many fish appear to be hitting it. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Red salmon hang from the gillnet as it comes aboard the Americanus. The number of fish caught in a net varied widely over the course of the day depending on the stage of the tide and the location of the net. The test boat fished the same seven locations each day. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Adrian Zimmer, a technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, cuts a small appendage called the auxiliary process from a red salmon after picking fish from a net. The tiny piece of flesh was gathered from the first 70 red salmon caught in each net the crew picked, and preserved in bottles so that biologists could take DNA samples from them later. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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The crew samples small appendages called the auxiliary process from the first 70 red salmon caught in each net and preserves them in bottles so that biologists can take DNA samples from them later. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Adrian Zimmer pulls an automated water sampling device back into the boat after sending it to the bottom to measure water temperature, salinity, depth and other factors. Crew members had to deploy the unit after setting each net. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Adrian Zimmer, a technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s commercial fish division, records data, at right, in a log book as Travis Greenlee cleans up after picking a net. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Travis Mercier ices fish in one of the hold compartments aboard the Americanus. Mercier said he has worked as a commercial fisherman for most of his life, with five or six years of experience working for Maw. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Roland Maw motors the Americanus through Cook Inlet. He has owned the 44-foot long boat since it was launched in June 1988. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Mount Redoubt rises more than 10,000 feet above Cook Inlet on the western shore of Cook Inlet as the crew of the Americanus works a set. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Clockwise from top, Adrian Zimmer, Travis Mercier, Wade Greenlee and Roland Maw mend a net during a break from fishing. Seals and floating logs are among those things Maw hates to see go through his net. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Near the end of a day of fishing and near the western shore of Cook Inlet at the mouth of the Drift River, Travis Mercier opens a can of peas to accompany the fresh salmon he cooked the crew for dinner. The three-man crew worked every day of July in two-day shifts on the water. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Adrian Zimmer watches the sun rise above Cook Inlet as the Americanus motors to the first set of the day. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Near the northern tip of Kalgin Island, at right, Adrian Zimmer and Wade Greenlee unspool the net into Cook Inlet as the sun rises on the northeastern horizon. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Travis Mercier pulls the net up a roller on the back of the Americanus at the end of a set. Mercier said he has worked as a commercial fisherman for most of his life, with five or six years of experience working for Maw. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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A red salmon hangs in the net as Wade Greenlee pauses during a pick. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Roland Maw, captain of the Americanus and executive director of United Cook Inlet Drift Association, talks to the crew of the Perigrine in the middle of Cook Inlet. As a test boat, the Americanus was able to fish in areas otherwise closed, drawing the attention of other fishermen and, occasionally, an Alaska State Trooper helicopter. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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A red salmon tries in vain to jump clear of the net it was tangled in. Fish are caught when their gills tangle in the net’s webbing. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Salmon wait to be bled, sampled and iced after being picked from the driftnet. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
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Travis Mercier catches a few minute of sleep as the Americanus motors back to Kasilof. The test boat worked every day of July. (Photo by M. Scott Moon)
 

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